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UI/UX trends for 2021

The best apps have a user interface (UI) that is unique and yet somehow familiar; intuitive and at the same time, alluring.

From the very moment a user starts the app launcher, through the overall course of using it, they should feel like they get reacquainted with an old friend.

The user understands what to do and how to behave while being excited to discover new depths of functionality.

Year after year, the developers modify various interface elements, incorporating new technology, features, and trends. Each new trend prompts app owners to consider changes, lest they are left behind.

We are going to describe the most relevant trends in UI/UX for 2021, but you can still discover how they are implemented in real products on

1. Motion Graphics and Animation

Animated elements are great at capturing the attention of the user. They can positively transform the user experience, making human-machine interaction engaging.

Some of the UI animations examples included: lists, buttons, switches, processing bars, and mascots. At the same time motion graphics examples are the following: animation with text as a main component, animated movies with appearing titles.

However, it is worth remembering that there is a fine line between life-like and irritating. Too much animation can become distracting and repel users.

2. Voice Interface

Speaking is arguably easier than typing. It is more natural and can save time. These are the main reasons why the integration of the voice user interface (VUI) is on the rise. VUI can take many forms, but the most successful examples are virtual assistants.

After all, who hasn’t heard about or used Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Google Assistant?

Virtual assistants can be activated in several ways:

  • with voice, reacting to a certain cue;
  • haptically, by pressing a button;
  • with motion, for example, when a person enters the room; and
  • periodically, meaning in pre-set periods of time, often as a reminder.

On the other hand, many users have reservations about using voice assistants, mainly due to privacy concerns. Therefore, it is always a good idea to reassure the user that whatever they say is confidential.

3. Dark Mode

The dark mode is more than a trend. It is a practical solution. “Going dark” can prolong the battery life of your device. Devices supporting AMOLED displays benefit from this feature most. Reportedly, this can reduce battery consumption by up to 63%.

The dark mode is now offered by many tech giants, including Google, Facebook, Apple, YouTube, Android, and Twitter, among others. Microsoft Word, while already having a dark mode, is currently testing its even darker version.

4. The Rise of 3D Elements

3D elements are not completely new, but they have been used sparingly in previous years. The reason for this lied in the increase in app loading times.

Now, various frameworks allow to incorporate such elements without sacrificing the performance.

5. Glassmorphism

Last year, neumorphism was extremely popular. Today, it is mostly in the past. Glassmorphism is the new cool kid on the block. It creates a “frosted glass” effect, with seemingly transparent elements.

It mimics the appearance of glass, placed on a colorful, often gradient background. Thin white lines are used to accentuate the borders.

6. Minimalism

The benefits of the minimalist style abound. First and foremost, it allows creating a distinct visual hierarchy, bringing the most important elements to the foreground.

Elements of minimalist style often include bold typography and a limited number of colors and shades. A few hues and a distinct headline can laser-focus the attention of the user.

7. Fun Error and Loading Screens

Is there anything more annoying than seeing an error or a loading message on the screen of your app? Yet, no matter how great the application is, sometimes, those messages are necessary. Nowadays, developers try to make them a pleasant experience.

For example, Slack’s loading screen greets its users with quotations from their teammates. Depending on the general mood within an organization this can strengthen the connection between workers or simply make them laugh.

Some brands show users animated images of their mascots, such as an adorable hamster in a hat displayed by Hipmunk. The same company is using other tactics to reassure the user that progress is happening. They show a progress bar and display the names of the airlines, databases of which are currently being scanned.

Chrome went one step further and created a mini-game that users can play when the network is down.

8. Personalization and Device Synchronization

With more information available at our fingertips comes the necessity to filter what is important and relevant. Of course, what is relevant for one person might not be interesting to another.

Personalization allows companies to deliver what they consider relevant to each individual. The most common tools of personalization are tailored content and recommendations, push notifications, and location-based info.

Meanwhile, device synchronization provides the user with access to the information across all of their devices, making sure that it is up-to-date.

Personalization can improve user experience significantly, but it might not be appropriate for every industry. News agencies, for instance, should treat such approaches with caution.

They have to ensure that their readers/viewers receive well-balanced and accurate information, covering different viewpoints. If the algorithm starts feeding someone only a certain perspective, their views might get polarized. And each following article will reinforce the existing judgments.

Personalization is great for shopping, making it faster to find and choose an item.

These are the general trends and they might not be right for every app. If your brand has a distinct style, you might not want to change it too much at once. This can confuse the current users. Nonetheless, introducing new features is usually a step in the right direction. This way, you show your customers that you are evolving.

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